welcome to nhk world "newsline," i'm gene otani in tokyo. here's a look at some of the stories we're following this hour. the u.n. security council has held an emergency meeting. sharp divisions remain over the crimean government's plan to secede from ukraine. premier li keqiang tells the nation people's congress it's time to reform politics and the economy, an expert and citizens give us their take.
and a senior official in china's communist party says there will be no leniency for terrorists after a stabbing spree last week at a railway station. the u.n. security council has held an emergency meeting to discuss the ukrainian crisis. it remains sharply divided over the crimean government's plan to secede from ukraine. the meeting came after local government officials announced plans to hold a referendum on secession from ukraine. it set the poll for march 16th. russian forces have effectively taken control of ukraine's autonomous republic of crimea. u.n. deputy secretary jan eleison joined from ukraine. he had called for meaningful dialogue among all key parties to help ease the crisis. after the meeting britain's u.n. ambassador expressed strong concern. >> clearly, such a referendum would be illegal under article 73 of the ukrainian
constitution, and it would also be deeply destabilizing. >> but russia's u.n. envoy rejected the concerns. >> they made this decision, and, of course, our authorities will need to, you know, to make a decision how they're going to deal with that. >> u.s. president barack obama has urged russian president vladimir putin to resolve the situation diplomatically. the leaders talked for an hour by phone. putin said his country is following international law. white house officials reported that obama said russia's actions violate ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. obama told putin the u.s. will impose sanctions, including visa restrictions on russian officials. obama called for direct talks between the governments of ukraine and russia. he also urged putin to agree to troigsal monitors in ukraine. officials in moscow say putin told obama that russia's actions
are in line with international law and with the wishes of regional authorities. putin said ukraine's interim government lacks legitimacy. the officials quote putin as saying that russia/u.s. relations play a significant role in maintaining global stability and security and the relationship must not be marred by individual issues. they say the two leaders reaffirm that their foreign ministers will stay in close contact. european union leaders decided to add an emergency meeting in brussels to dial up the pressure. the leaders issued a statement saying russia's violating ukraine's sovereignty. they agreed to three stages of sanctions. they've already suspended talks on granting russians visa-free travel within the bloc. they asked russian and ukrainian negotiators to start talks within the next few days and they say they'll consider travel restrictions and asset freezes for russian officials. they say any further steps to destabilize the situation would lead to far-reaching consequences.
as we've been reporting all week, reform is the main topic of discussion for chinese leaders at this year's national people's congress. the annual meeting brings together more than 3,000 delegates from across the country to address the most pressing issues. chinese president xi jinping and his administration are striving for stable and sustainable economic growth while also improving the quality of life for all citizens. but china's road to reform is filled with challenges. nhk world's raja pradhan is leading our special coverage from beijing this week. raja? >> hi, gene. on the third day of the npc, commerce minister said china has an open-minded attitude towards the u.s.-led transpacific partnership or tpp. gao told reporters that the tpp
negotiations are very important and that china perceives the framework as a high-level trade pact. he also said china's keeping close contact with major countries such as the u.s., that are involved in the negotiations. but he did not say whether china would join the tpp. he reiterated, though, that the country is paying close attention to the free trade strategy. now npc delegates in the meantime have been busy discussing this year's government work report that was delivered by premier li keqiang on wednesday. it contains proposals for reforms mostly having to do with the economy. nhk world's key oak cofujita spoke to a political expert and got his take. >> the associate professor of pay king university has been studying government forums for more than 20 years. he says this year's work report puts a particularly strong emphasis on change. how do you evaluate this year's
government work report? >> translator: during the speech the delegates applauded about 50 times. and the word reform was used more than 70 times. i thought it was a very good report. >> reporter: there's a common perception in china that reforms announced by the national government are often not implemented on the regional level. that's why associate professor bai says premier li's announcement of measurable goals is in itself a milestone. >> translator: setting quantitative targets is a good way to promote the reforms. they can carry out the reforms in an organizational way. and it will be easier to control. it will also be easier for local authorities to understand the objectives set by the central government. so it will be more effective for
achieving the reform targets. >> reporter: bai also points out that centralizing more power in the hands of xi jinping is among the government's reform strategies. one thing he says that's not mentioned in this year's work report is structural reform. that could imply the communist party wants to leave china's national security committee under its control. the committee was created by the party's central standing committee and president xi jinping was appointed its head. >> translator: in china's political structure the communist party holds ultimate power. because the national security commission is a party organization, it will be able to exercise top-down control over it. this structure allows policies, orders and instructions to be enforced effectively.
the government is aware that it has not been able to effectively implement its policies up to now. so it is taking steps to centralize power. its aim is to create a more powerful centralized leadership, which will be needed for addressing the many issues now facing china. >> reporter: so while china's leadership has bold plans for change, bai says it may require a ruthless approach to pushing it through. >> and kyoko joins us now with more. how is the chinese public reacting to the government work report? >> well, raja, reactions are mostly positive. i spoke to some people here in beijing about the report, and here's what they had to say. >> translator: we want our leaders to be interested in ordinary people's lives. and think about us. >> translator: i put high hope on the president xi's word. china's dream.
i hope younger generation can have hope in the future. and have better living. >> one of the policies many people are paying attention to is the government project to build more affordable housing units for low-income earners. housing is a hot issue in this country, because home prices in the larger cities have risen dramatically in the past few years. many people complain they'll never be able to buy their own homes, no matter how hard they work. i went to one of the public housing complexes under construction right now in beijing. millions of units are being built across the country, and the government has announced plans to build 7 million units. that's more than last year. but the plan doesn't address the issue of the urban poor. a lot of the homes subsidized by the government are being built near areas like this one. you can see it's not very developed, and people here are
living in shacks. many of them are migrant workers who work in construction. and they say they won't benefit from the government's housing scheme. >> translator: the public housing units that the government is promoting are too expensive for people like us. we just can't afford it. >> helping those very poor is also a huge challenge for the chinese government. >> kyoko what do you think are the challenges for the government to push its reforms through? >> well, as associate professor bai said the xi administration may need to take a tough approach to achieve the change that it wants. and that could be done by centralizing power around president xi jinping and the party. but taking such an iron-fisted approach could trigger public backlash. and people with vested interests are also likely to oppose reforms that could adversely
affect them so there's no easy answer to how government should push these reforms through. >> kyoko, thank you very much. and that's all for our special series, "china: road to reform." >> raja, before we let you go, you've spent more than a week in beijing now. what are your thoughts on this year's political season? >> well, gene, this has actually been very interesting. because it's the first time the xi administration has put forward a work report, and outlined its goals for the year ahead. the npc is very much about setting the framework, so as these policies get implemented we'll be following all the developments. and our colleagues here in beijing will have more from the npc as it wraps up next week. gene? >> raja, thanks. raja pradhan in beijing. the chief of china's shi jack uighur autonomous region says authorities cannot go easy on terrorists. he says terrorists are the common ebbmys of all ethnic
groups in that part of northwestern china. the xinjiang communist party secretary took part in a discussion during the annual sessions of china's parliament. zhang chunxian spoke afterwards after the threat of terrorism in his region. >> translator: terrorists should not be treated with leniency. we should crack down on them severely. >> zhang spoke days after a knifing rampage at a railway station in southwestern schiena. a mob killed 29 people. chinese authorities say a separatist group from the xinjiang region carried out the attack. some chinese people are taking to the internet to defend ethnic uighurs. they're using the microblogging site weibo to urge others to -- not to discriminate against the group. some users have uploaded photos of themselves holding up written messages. one says people in the xinjiang region are not terrorists. a chinese media expert says the
government used to have complete control over information on ethnic issues. the expert says the internet has given citizens access to a wide range of information, so they can now decide matters for themselves. sony let go of its building in new york. now it's doing the same to its headquarters in tokyo to stay afloat. ramin mellegard from the biz team has the latest on this. >> gene, as we know, sony is fully focused on trying to get its bottom line back into shape, and this is another step towards achieving that. struggling electronics company sony has decided to accept its former headquarters building in tokyo. this is the latest in a series of steps the company has taken to nurse itself back to financial health. sony says it's signed a contract to sell the ex-headquarters building, as well as another building nearby to major real estate developer sumitomo realty and development. the deal is valued at roughly $156 million.
the two buildings are housing sony's medical equipment and other divisions. one of these buildings has served as head office since 1990. last year, the company also sold some of its high rise buildings in new york, and tokyo. sony is in the midst of an attempt to rebuild itself. it's been suffering from sluggish sales of tvs and pcs. the company's expected to lose around $1 billion in the current business year that ends this month. the latest japanese government data indicate that the country's economic recovery is maintaining momentum. a key indicator climbed for the seventh straight month. officials at the cabinet office say the owe incident index of the economy went up 2.5 points. in january from the previous month to 114.8. it reached the highest level in nearly six years. the index gives a snapshot of the current state of the economy and is based on broad statistics on production, employment, and
many other economic activities. officials attribute the rise in part to the stepped up output and sales of cars ahead of the consumption tax hike next month. they also say the shipments of semiconductor making equipment to china and europe were strong. another index suggests the economy's likely to expand in the future. the leading index rose for the fifth consecutive month edging up 0.5 points to 112.2. but officials note that the business outlooks for small and medium-size companies are worsening because of an expected decline in domestic demand after the tax hike. now let's get a check on the markets. investors in europe continue to digest the european central bank's decision not to provide further stimulus. the euro jumped following the ecb's decision on thursday and it keeps climbing against the dollar. right now euro dollar is being quoted at 1.3888-3891.
meanwhile the dollar/yen is currently changing hands at 102.97-99. top of the screen there. u.s. currency still near a five-week high against the yen. dollar's little changed against the yen, market players are keeping an eye on the key u.s. jobs report which is due out later today. european traders are pushing the australian dollar higher. the australian currency posted its intraday high against the yen staying near a two-month high. that's after australia's central bank governor denied the possibility of a further rate cut for now. moving on to stocks, european equities are trading lower, as you can see there on the screens. london's ftse lower by 0.2%. frankfurt's dax down and paris' cac 40 down by nearly 0.3%. some traders appear to have been disappointed that the ecb decided not to inject more liquidity into the markets. now earlier, asian bourses ended mixed as you can see there. tokyo's nikkei gained 0.92%.
shanghai composite fell as investors were concerned about the possibility of more corporate bond defaults. india's sensex index jumped 1.89% to 21,919. renewing its record high for a second straight day. an improvement in the rupee's weakness is boosting hopes that the stron inflationary pressure may ease. that's because of an expected drop in the cost of importing oil. now japan's been promoting the use of renewable energy. now a government panel has approved a draft plan for setting new prices that power companies used to buy the energy generated by business firms and households. under the law that went into effect two years ago, utilities are required to buy electricity produced by companies and households using renewable sources of energy. officials on the industry ministry commission say the costs of installing solar panels
and other power production equipment are falling. they say this enables a reduction in the purchase price for business produced solar power to 32 yen per kilowatt hour from the current 36 yen. the price for households will drop to 37 yen, from the present 38 yen. and for the first time, the panel disclosed the price of electricity generated at offshore wind farms. it's 36 yen, 1.6 times the price for ground-based wind power generation. the industry ministry plans to finalize the purchase prices this month. and that's all for business news for this hour. i will leave you with a look at the region's markets.
a japanese man once celebrated for his ability to compose music despite being deaf and then exposed as a fraud has apologized. he made his first public appearance at a news conference in tokyo. he was once dubbed by the japanese media, as a modern-day beethoven. >> translator: i deeply apologize to the people who have listened to the music, and who have come to the concerts. i'm really sorry for causing such trouble. >> he started to gain public
attention in 1999 when he released symphonic suite rising sun based on music for the popular video game onimusha. his symphony number one hiroshima was credited with giving people hope following the march 2011 disaster. it became a major hit. last month a university lecturer revealed that it was, in fact, he who had written pieces for samuragochi over the past 18 years. he said he had never sensed that samuragochi was deaf. he distributed a diagnosis at the news conference saying he is not deaf, but does suffer from partial hearing impairment. he says it was wrong to make use of his handicap. but he says he wanted to encourage people who were having tough times, and that his intentions were genuine. japan's ambassador to the united nations has rejected south korea's criticism of tokyo's move to re-examine the background for the 1993 statement that apologized to the
so-called comfort women. >> the position of the government of japan has not changed at all. the government of japan has never spoke of reviewing the statement. >> okada made the remark at a u.n. human rights council meeting on thursday. he was responding to remarks made by the south korean foreign minister yun byung-se before the group on the previous day. yun criticized japan's political leaders. he said they are attempting to re-examine the background of the statement that was based on the testimony of some former korean comfort women. the statement the two representatives were referring to was issued in 1993 by japan's then-chief cabinet secretary yohei kono. kono said that many comfort women were recruited against their will to work in brothels operated at the request of the japanese military authorities during world war ii. his statement said in addition to japanese women, those from the korean peninsula accounted for a large part and expressed apologies and remorse.
the japanese ambassador also criticized south korea for saying that japan has left the issue unresolved. he said the right to claim individual damages from the war was legally settled between japan and other countries by treaties including claims concerning the comfort women. japanese regulators are investigating a malfunction in a system that monitors nuclear plants across the country. the nuclear regulation authority uses emergency response support system to track how reactors are performing. on thursday night temperature and pressure data from two reactors at the fukushima daini plant stopped showing up. the plant is about ten kilometers from the fukushima daiichi plant. it's been offline since the accident three years ago. the regulators have instructed the plant's operator, tokyo electric power company, to submit data on the two reactors by fax. they're trying to determine what caused the glitch. we are back to more snow in northern japan. our meteorologist robert speta is here with more on that.
robert? >> yes, gene, we are seeing out here today is a very strong winter setup across much of northern parts of honshu and even off towards hokkaido. even a few flurries flew in parts of tokyo earlier on. now most of that has cleared up. now nothing too intense. we are seeing the rough weather, on the other hand, is really off towards the north. a few areas have reported winds as highs a117 kilometers per hour there in southern parts of hokkaido. i want to show you some images out of northern hokkaido for an ambulance slid off the road here. now at the time, winds were up to about 66 kilometers per hour when this occurred. one person was injured on their way to the hospital. no serious injuries. but definitely very scary sight, indeed out here and does go to show the weather can have an influence. still investigating whether the weather was the cause of that but needless to say there are whiteout conditions out here, and up to 40 centimeters of snow still expected in the next 24 hours. iwate prefecture, you saw about
41 centimeters in the past 24 hours. so it continues to come down, and unfortunately throughout the weekend, conditions are going to be remaining in place that way along the sea of japan coastline. the pacific coast on the other hand, sunny skies for the most part shaping up into your saturday and sunday. we are looking at a new storm system coming in from the west. rain is bringing some showers out here in the southeastern china. south of the yangtze river basin about 30 to 50 millimeters of rain fall including hong kong, high pay, definitely want to have a umbrella ready going into your saturday. but saturday evening, that's going to shift east bringing those showers to the southern japanese islands with a slow clearing working its way in there behind it. for now take a look at that. rain showers in hong kong, high pay and zhang pie. partly cloudy skies throughout the tropics. and ulan bator a little bit of a warming trend up to zero today, going through your saturday. that's up from minus 6 which you saw on friday. now, let's take a look over towards the americas. in the northwest, looking at some rain showers out here. well it is going to be the next
system coming through and that's rain falling on top of what's already occurred there so definitely the increased threat of flooding. further more on the other side of the u.s., we're seeing over here is a severe storm that actually pushed through the southern portions of florida, brought three reports of tornadoes out here on your thursday. good news, that one is working its way off towards the northeast, but did make for some pretty incredible images coming out of coral springs florida. we showed you aen image out of sydney yesterday of this same type of feature what we call a shelf cloud. the leading edge of a severe thunderstorm and there it is right there for you. now the good news, the severe threat is being reduced here as that system does move off towards the northeast. still a wintry weather situation in parts of the carolinas, into virginia. freezing rain is a continued problem into the great lakes, as well. and the big thing with this, we're looking at a warming trend ahead of a frontal area pushing through here. behind it it's going to cool down and then by sunday, it will warm back up. a little roller coaster ride for
you there in denver, over towards oklahoma city. take a look at that. 18 down to 7 up to 13 and by monday, into the 20s. up and down. meanwhile, across europe, well, into northern parts of the uk, you've already see wind reports as high as 90 kilometers per hour. back-to-back low pressure systems off towards the north, because south of it, high pressure is dominating. so you see all these lines really close together indicating those strong winds, and definitely very wet and windy. but here, mild, and then we have a cutoff low which is continuing to bring you thunderstorms across the balkan peninsula through your friday. here's the extended forecast.
> it is 1:00 in the french capital. there will be no war between moscow and kiev, but the russian upper parliament speaker calls it nonsense. the international criminal court finds congolese warlord germain katanga guilty of crimes against humanity for his involvement in the 2003 village attack which left 200 dead. warns there is no quick fix to central african instability. it says 12,000 more troops are needed to shore up the situation.